I did a Trek in Iceland at the end of summer to raise money for an incredible local charity, Francis House Hospice.
After exploring the city of Reykjavic for a day and night, we flew to Egilstaðir Airport, South East Iceland. We hiked around 75km over the 5 days with ascents up to 1970ft. It was inspiring to see how the Icelandic live and their relationship with nature. Their buildings respect the environment in which they sit and look pure and simple in their form and materiality.
Icelandic Architecture draws from Scandinavian influences and, traditionally, was influenced by the lack of native trees on the island. As a result, grass- and turf-covered houses were developed.
Many high-quality stone buildings were erected in the 18th century, the very first being a mansion on Viðey, made completely out of Icelandic stone. Many Icelanders were themselves encouraged to learn the craft of masonry during the stone construction boom period, leading to the building of many stone houses which mimicked the design of Icelandic turf houses.
The original turf houses constructed by the original settlers of Iceland (from the west coast of Norway were based on Viking Longhouses (langhús).
As the 20th century dawned, Swiss chalet style architecture was brought indirectly to Iceland under Norwegian influence. Settling in the Eastern Region and Westfjords, they brought with them prefabricated houses which they then erected there. The buildings tended to be taller and with large windows, unlike anything of the styles that had prevailed in Iceland beforehand. Notable features of these buildings were the friezes above doors and windows, and eaves which projected out above the walls.
Our studio had a busy start to Autumn which included a weekend away in the beautiful city of Venice at the start of October!
Sam and Nick kindly arranged for the whole studio team to take part in a weekend conference hosted by State of Art Academy.
We flew out of Manchester airport on the morning of the first day of the conference and after checking into our hotel the Double Tree Hilton, we headed straight to registration and the first part of the conference.
What is State of Art Academy #day8?
The state of Art Academy is an Architectural Visualisation school and training academy. They hold annual training conferences in Italy. The website describes the event as an opportunity for artists to “exchange views, learn from the best and keep up with growing technologies’” and the event delivered exactly that!
The whole weekend was jam packed with industry Leading experts in the field of 3D Visualisation revealing their best practice for processes and secrets to producing high quality CGI visuals showcasing aspirational projects and showreels.
This years theme for the event was Artist vs Machine. Speakers discussed how emerging technologies are quickly changing the way we work and (in some cases with the growth of AI systems – replacing humans). Artists were able to evaluate the role of both artist and machine in the workflow and how best to make use of the new technology available to us.
• professors in the field of neuroscience exploring the science behind viewing images,
• New technologies including VR, AI and neural networks,
• discussions about how to get the most from your render engines CPU/CG rendering,
• interactive tutorials on the latest industry software updates and plugins.
It was also a great opportunity to take inspiration, tips and techniques from cutting edge studios on their creative approach to image making. As a team we could reflect on our own studio processes and felt motivated to put into practice the lessons we had learned.
In between sessions Our Studio were able to relax and mingle in the sun shine with other attendees and catch up with some old friends as well as meet some new ones.
On our last evening the team strolled around Venice taking in the architecture and the sunset over the Canals whilst enjoying some fine Italian cuisine, wine and obligatory Limoncello!
With thanks to our very own 3D artist Owen (who has a keen eye for photography) who took some really great photos – Thanks Owen!
Our Studio has had the pleasure of having student Joseph Lynch working with the team over the summer months.
Joe got in touch with Our Studio as he was interested in interning opportunities and wanted to gain some experience in Architectural Visualisation and develop his portfolio.
We were more than happy to have him on board!
Our Studio Creative Director Nick Harrison and intern Joseph Lynch
We interviewed Joe about his time working in the studio and found out what he had learnt from his experience behind the scenes at Our Studio …
Tell us a bit about yourself Joe – what’s your 3D Background?
I started practising 3D about 3 years ago after a work shadowing day at Studio Liddell in Manchester. After a year of practising every night I was offered a position at Studio Liddell as an apprentice Generalist, I deferred my Uni offer and took the opportunity to gain some experience before moving onto the University of Hertfordshire to study 3d modelling and animation in September 2016. A year later and I have just finished my first year and have been very lucky to land an internship at Our studio.
What inspires/interests you about Architectural Visualisation?
The architectural side to 3D is one that I haven’t hadn’t much experience in. It’s something my portfolio was lacking and as a generalist I felt it important for me to have as wide a range of work and experience as possible. I was looking forward to working in an area that’s new to me and I’ve enjoyed it very much.
I’ve always enjoyed experimenting and having a go at things that are new to me. I’ve loved almost everything I’ve tried and that’s one of the reasons I’ve chosen the generalist route. I like the idea of having a wide range of skills as opposed to specialising in just one area. Because of this, I’ve managed to build up a comfortable range of software experience over the past few years including 3dsMax, Maya, Vray, Arnold, Corona, Zbrush, Marvellous Designer, Unreal Engine, Photoshop and After Effects as well as a bunch of smaller software and too many plugins to mention! Using this software I have tried to cover as many bases as possible in my portfolio including, characters, buildings, creatures, vehicles, games and props.
What new things did you learn whilst being at Our Studio?
Whilst at Our studio I’ve had the chance to work on crowd simulation as well as practicing the creation of procedural materials and shaders and a little bit of liquid simulation towards the end. I’ve also had the chance to work with Corona as well as Vray. Corona was completely new to me so it’s great to have that extra render plugin under my belt. I’ve learned a lot of new tricks and tips when it comes to material creation as well as learning how to simulate crowds which is something I had no previous experience with. I think the best thing I’ve learned is the inner workings of the studio and how they differ from those of other studios.
If you had to choose one example of 3D work which has inspired you, what would it be and why?
I get a lot of my inspiration from classmates work, I think seeing how hard everyone works adds some extra perspective to just how impressive that final result is and at the same time it pushes those around them to work harder as well. It’s a great motivator. There’s also lots of incredible inspiration I find online. Adam Skutt must be my all-time favourite sculptor, his work is incredible. As for my all-time favourite game it has to be the Witcher 3. I’ve never played a game as convincing of an imaginary world as the Witcher universe.
A sculpture by Adam Scutt
What have you enjoyed the most about working alongside the OS team?
The workplace at Our Studio is so comfortable and friendly, you couldn’t ask for a better working environment. I found it very relaxed which made asking questions and learning new things very easy. I never felt like I was bothering anyone when I needed a hand. To me this is one of the best things about working within the studio, it really makes the job a pleasure.
Joe kindly bought in some Krispy Kreme donuts on his last day to say thank you and of course -these were well received by the OS team!
Thanks Joe and we wish you all the best with your future ventures into the world of 3D.
If you are interested in interning or work experiences with Our Studio we would love to hear from you – please email your interest to firstname.lastname@example.org
VR is everywhere now but it’s not a new concept. Our Studio have been monitoring the growth in VR over the last few years with particular interest – specifically its relevance within the Visualisation and Architectural industries.
Our Studio visiting VISION London back in 2016
(The event hosted many of the key players in the future of the built environment. Our guys headed to the Virtual Reality Viewpoint to test out some of the innovative new products on the market.)
In recent years the key sectors for VR, such as gaming and engineering, have led the way in VR technology and exploration. Arguably the biggest advancement in VR was the introduction of the Oculus Rift (https://www.oculus.com/) which began as a Kickstarter back in 2012. This was the first real dedicated VR headset for gaming that gave the viewer a true feeling of presence within their virtual world along with the ability interact with your environment. It was however out of reach to most due to its price point and reliance upon expensive performance computers to process the graphics. It’s still an awesome bit of kit, along with similar devices such as the HTC Vive and the cost is coming down, but we still feel best suited to certain applications like marketing suites and events. The technology and most importantly the VR content created to be viewed within these headsets is also improving all the time, but for now, they perhaps lack the mass appeal needed to really make VR a mainstream form of media for everyone.
VR Experience For The Masses
We are now seeing growth in the range of hardware on offer by numerous manufacturers, as well as multiple platforms in which to develop VR and deliver VR experiences. This is making VR accessible to everyone no matter what your budget is. With the introduction of Google Cardboard in 2014, where you can simply insert a regular smart phone into a low-tech cardboard ‘device’ which you hold up to your face to view relatively simple VR experiences.
This modest “DIY” headset can be easily manufactured and distributed. Easy to navigate downloadable apps mean anyone can quickly and easily turn a smart phone into a VR viewing experience. These types of VR apps are available now on both the App Store for iOS and the Play Store for Android. These include traditional action or fantasy games as well educational apps for children, to simulating extreme sports and even VR dating! But this method of downloading online VR content to your phone or device opens a lot of opportunities to develop custom built apps that can be deployed anywhere in the world. And it’s this we feel is an exciting opportunity for our clients to view their projects in a new and immersive way.
How does it work?
These downloadable apps cleverly transform the screen on your mobile into a stereoscopic viewing function. This creates the illusion of depth within an image. This VR “viewing experience” does just that – the viewer perceives they are looking around within a 3-dimensional space which helps create a real sense of presence within the space. The current trend is that companies and brands are embracing this kind of technology as a marketing tool, exploring it with their consumers and clients across a diverse range of sectors.
Example of Stereoscopic Viewing Function available for interactive apps
This has been a huge step forward in terms of reaching a mass market and making VR more accessible. Due to its ease of use and ability to be downloaded on most mobile platforms.
What’s next for Our Studio and our VR Predictions
Our Studio’s vision is to offer affordable, accessible VR viewing solutions to our clients that still retain the high-quality, photo-realism we strive for in our CGIs renders. One important element to achieving this is not be restrained by access to high end performance technology. We feel these experiences should be accessible by everyone and for every scenario.
Our Studio have been offering photo-realistic 360-degree CGI panoramas to our clients for several years now. These can be imbedded into websites or coded within apps that are then easily downloaded to mobile devices. You can view a couple of examples of our 360-degree panoramas by downloading the apps below
View Herbal House App on ITunes
Herbal House London App Itunes
Enhanced panoramic viewing capabilities distributed in an app developed by Our Studio – view the 3D tour by downloading the No1 Spinningfields app for free:
No1 Spinningfields App available from Itunes
View No1 Spinningfields App on ITunes
We have recently adapted and taken this viewing experience one step further to offer a more interactive VR tour that’s available across multiple platforms and devices such as iOS, Android, Gear VR, Google Cardboard, iPhone and iPad. (watch this space – more news coming soon!)
What’s more, we are working hard on developing processes so the use of VR becomes an integral part of the design and development process between ourselves, our partners and their clients. We are keen to hear from architects and developers to hear their thoughts on this.
The Our Studio team taking part in some R&D at a recent VR AR & MR Demo Day hosted by the Landing at Media City
If you would like to discuss a VR opportunity or project, please don’t hesitate to get in touch the Our Studio team email@example.com 0161 237 1900 to chat about possible solutions for your project.
Our Studio are very proud to have been nominated for a Big Chip Award this year!
Although we didn’t win this time around – our Congratulations go to the winners of the Best Use of Digital Design 2017 award with their entry.
Our Studio were lucky enough however to be shortlisted in this category for our Interactive application & CGI work for marketing the No1 Spinningfields development, alongside our friends at 90degrees agency.
See the 2017 Big Chip Awards shortlist here: http://bigchipawards.com/shortlist2017
The app formed part of a marketing campaign showcasing the latest development to be added to the Manchester Spinningfields scheme by developers Allied London.
The Project Brief
Our brief was to develop highly realistic 3D visuals with enhanced panoramic viewing to be made accessible via a downloadable, bespoke app. The app was well received by property agents and potential occupiers and as a result – the scheme is almost fully let!
Along with high quality office space the scheme offers retail and leisure opportunities with a roof top terrace, restaurant, coffee bar and food market. Our Studio developed all the CGI assets within the app which also feature in a unique 360-degree panoramic tour function. All of the Our Studio team worked very hard to collaborate on the many 3D assets required to populate the app, which resulted in a highly detailed, high quality visual tool for communicating the statement design.
The app is free and available to download on iTunes and is one of many bespoke apps we have developed for our property clients.
Please visit iTunes for more info or to download one of our interactive apps: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/no-1-spinningfields/id1114799037?mt=8
Big Chip Awards Night – Thursday 15th June 2017
Sam and James attended the awards ceremony hosted at the Hilton on Deansgate for an evening of glitz and glamour which was followed by the after party at cloud 23 for more celebrations.
Here are a few pics from the evening. (I am sure you will agree – they all scrub up very well!)
Very well done to the team and 90degrees for a great project collaboration and a Big thanks to Big Chip for a great night all round. We are proud to be recognised as one of the many talented and creative digital companies working together in the North West!
This week has been a sombre one following news of Monday evenings events at the Manchester MEN Arena.
Although business has returned to normal for some, our heartfelt thoughts go out to the families and friends of the people affected by the incident, and recognise the hard work of the emergency services and the local people who bravely and kindly responded to the aftermath.
Despite the atmosphere and the difficulties – within hours’ stories and images started to emerge that captured acts of kindness, strength & sprit of the people Manchester. The outhouse in Stevenson Square is a popular spot for graffiti artists and they were quick to show support.
The #WeLoveMCR charity campaign has raised almost a million pounds for the victims’ families. A just giving page has been set up where people can donate here:
On Tuesday, Our Studio decided to reflect and contemplate quietly over at the Manchester City Art Gallery.
The team took some time out for a relaxed lunch in the gallery café and spent the afternoon exploring the current photography exhibition on show there.
The exhibition titled: Women and Children; and Loitering Men, documents the work of Salford born artist Shirley Baker. Baker used the medium of photography to document urban, post war communities living and working in Manchester between the 1960’s and the 1980’s.
It was great to see previously unseen photographs of historic Manchester architecture and a fitting exhibition to reflect on our city’s strength, creativity and resilience.
(The Shirley Baker Exhibition is open until Monday 28 August 2017. Details can be found here. )
We like to keep fit and healthy in the Studio but our Senior 3D Artist is going the extra mile and will be running the London Marathon for charity this Sunday the 23rd of April.
This is not the first of Marc’s Marathon journey – in 2015 he ran the Manchester marathon for the Macular Society, and raised £800 for this charity who provide emotional and physical support to people suffering with Macular eye conditions.
Marc has gone even further this year and raised an incredible £1255 of his £1350 total and we are very proud to be supporting him. This year he is proudly fundraising for the charity – VICTA. A charity supporting blindness in children and young adults.
Marc has been training hard – here are some pictures of him in action …
If you would like to support Marc in fundraising for Victa please visit his just giving page to make a donation here: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/marc-cohen
Good Luck Marc!
In case you missed it – this week saw the biggest event in the international property calendar take place in Cannes … MIPIM.
Each year in March, thousands of property professionals from all sectors of commercial, residential, and retail real estate, gather at the Palais des Festivals on the French Rivera for the four-day conference.
Our Studio have helped our clients get ready for the event by producing cgi and animations to help showcase some of Manchester’s exciting future developments such as Angel Meadows, Altair, North Central and St John’s Masterplan.
Here are just some of the projects that have attracted plenty attention over the course of the week on social media and in the press:
As well as 3D renders of proposed schemes, Our Studio produced a 3D animation fly through which was revealed in a live stream on the final day in a presentation on Manchester’s newest and eagerly awaited neighbourhood – St Johns – watch the animated fly through here
MIPIM I St John’s video released ahead of Enterprise City launch
Angel Meadows Scheme Press
The VFX festival developed by Escape Studios, part of Pearson College London recently hosted its fifth annual event at the east London venue – Rich Mix studios.
Workshops and seminars took place across two days which included speakers and participants from far and wide working across the games, animation and graphics industries.
Our Studio use VFX in our animations so two of our artists took time out from their usual schedules to visit this very popular annual event and even managed to squeeze in some BBQ ribs and beer afterwards!
It was an opportunity to hear about the latest industry techniques and software which was being showcased by experts in the field – here are their highlights from the day…
Marc Cohen (Our Studio Senior 3D Artist) – what was your festival highlight?
“Supporting The Crown – a talk by VFX Supervisor Ben Turner…
It was great to see hear and see first-hand how companies are exploring VFX techniques and specialist software to achieve amazing results!
After recently shooting in a green screen studio for a commercial CGI project, it was interesting to see how green screen and VFX is utilized on big budget TV Dramas to achieve things that aren’t possible with traditional methods of filming on location.
For example, during a talk from the VFX supervisor on the Netflix hit series The Crown – we heard how buildings such as Buckingham palace were re-created in CGI and then composited into film footage – a process that we use in our animations. It was great to hear about the production pipeline on a project of this scale and gave us ideas about how to approach our animations production in the future.”
James Brown (Our Studio Senior Artist and Production Manager) – what was your festival highlight?
“A personal highlight was meeting the guys behind -Houdini / Side FX software. (They provide artists with procedural 3D animation and VFX tools designed to create the highest-quality cinematic results).
They gave us some great ideas about looking at other pieces of software which we could introduce to our pipeline to create some great effects and visuals.”
If you would like to discuss an animation project please get in touch with the studio as we would be happy to chat through your project!
It’s been a busy start to 2017 – we kicked off the new year with lights, cameras and action during a recent Green Screen shoot!
Our project began last year when we filmed lifestyle footage on location for a commercial project we have been working on for several months.
We created a shot list based on our clients brief and set about hiring our talented crew and production team to assist with our location shoot preparations.
The team spent a busy three days outdoors on location (dodging the rain) and moving from one location to next. Our crew included our senior 3D artist/production manager, directors, a producer, lighting technician, runner, hair and makeup, kit and professional actors.
Green Screen Studio – behind the scenes
Back at Our Studio the next stage was for our 3D artists to generate CGI scenes which would act as back-plates for the green screen footage.
Our professional director and technical crew spent some time framing the shots and setting up the lighting for our scenes. Once the props were in place, make up had been checked and our actors had rehearsed – filming of our shots began…
Our team were on standby to ensure every action shot and detail was captured – we were very pleased with the outcome and the experienced team and well equipped studio meant the day ran very smoothly indeed. Here are some shots from behind the scenes on the day.
The final stage in our production is editing all the rushes from the shoot, compositing with our CGI renders and adding the finishing touches in post-production.
(We can’t reveal the client or the name of this project just yet but watch this space for more news on the final film…coming soon).
With special thanks to @JustinAtBigShed for hosting our shoot at big-shed.co.uk studio in Trafford Manchester.
If you would like to discuss a film or green screen project with Our Studio, please contact one of the team as we would be happy to discuss your requirements.